At Craft Beer Cellar, education is a passion.
We love constantly learning about beer, and passing that on to our customers. And we enjoy learning from our customers, too.
All of our Beer Geeks are, at minimum, Cicerone Certified Beer Servers. This is the first of four certification levels, with each step requiring far more knowledge and expertise than the one before it. Many of our owners and even some of our Beer Geeks have earned their Certified Cicerone® certification.
Two members of our team recently earned the third level, Advanced Cicerone™ title.
Craft Beer Cellar Nashua owner Brian Kervick and David Pavlus, Retail Education/Double Decocted Retail Slayer for our Brand team, are now two of 56 people in the world to hold the title of Advanced Cicerone™.
What does it take to earn that level of certification? Here’s Brian and David, in their own words:
* What motivated you to go for this level of certification?
Brian: The respect and recognition of my peers and the Cicerone program is, of course, nice, but I had a suspicion that I think has since been proven true: the knowledge I gained from studying and preparing for the test is the most valuable thing of all. The challenge of the test provided the motivation to do the hard work of studying and learning.
David: Honestly, having only been in the industry for a very short period of time, it was my hope that achieving this level of certification would be a steppingstone to establishing myself in the Boston-area craft beer industry. I wasn’t sure exactly what career path I wanted to take, but it was my hope that having the Advanced Cicerone™ certificate would afford me a wider variety of opportunities.
* What were your biggest challenges while preparing for the exam?
Brian: The test requires such comprehensive, in-depth beer knowledge that even people who work in the industry like myself have giant gaps in certain areas. You really need to study those and learn the theory and concepts in detail or, even better, go out and apply them in real life. I have very little practical experience with troubleshooting and cleaning specific parts of a glycol long-draw draft system, or caring for a cask before tapping it, or the propagation of yeast, for example. But I read books and learned as much as I could.
David: My biggest challenge was trying to find time to study for the exam. I was working 45+ hours a week and going to school to finish up my B.S. in Business, so it was difficult to squeeze in a couple of hours a day to study. Attending the Monday training sessions at Craft Beer Cellar was priceless in helping me prepare for the exam.
* What were your overall impressions of the exam? What was the most difficult part?
Brian: It’s a beast! I’m sure glad I passed! Taking the test in London, I found the tasting component to be especially difficult, as there were several styles (such as English brown ale) on the test that are more obscure in America. Considering the location, I thought that might be the case going in and took extra care with those styles in my preparation, but blind tasting is very difficult in general. The oral exams are always extremely nerve-wracking as well.
David: This exam was, hands down, the most difficult thing I have ever done. There were certain areas of the exam that I was more comfortable with, but eight hours of testing is grueling. The most difficult portion of the exam for me were the questions dealing with draft systems and cask beer. I have minimal experience in managing a draft system, so it required much more studying than other sections.
* What do you hope to bring to CBC Nashua customers, that they can’t get anywhere else, now that you “officially” have this level of knowledge?
Brian: A well-rounded education helps in so many ways. If a customer comes in looking for a certain style of beer, or they can only describe certain flavors they like, I’m there to help. If they just want to talk beer or need advice on CO2 pressure for their kegerator, I’m there. If a customer tried a beer and thought it might be off, I can help diagnose if it was drinking as intended or what went wrong.
Cicerone means “guide” in Latin. I’m their beer sherpa.
* What do you hope to bring to the CBC brand with your advanced expertise?
David: It is my hope to help further education for Craft Beer Cellar at all levels by developing educational curriculums and providing educational assistance at the store level.
* Any designs on going for the Master Cicerone® level?
Brian: Not right now. Perhaps in a few years if I’ve gained some more hands-on brewing, draft, and mechanical experience, as those are my weakest areas and the depth of knowledge and experience required by the Master level
in those areas is considerable.
David: As daunting as the idea of taking the Master exam is for me, it is my goal to take the exam in 2018.